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Appellate court upholds life sentence

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Duane Turner will spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering a Ball State student in 1994. The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his claims that his sentence was unconstitutional and that his attorney was ineffective.

Turner and Larry Newton went to the BSU campus with the intent of robbing someone. They picked up Chris Coyle and offered him a ride home. They demanded money from him, forced him out of the car, and then Newton shot Coyle once in the back of the head. Turner then shot Coyle in the shoulder. He died from the first shot.

Turner was convicted of felony murder and other charges, but only the murder conviction and a conviction of Class A felony attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury are at issue on this appeal. The jury was unable to recommend life imprisonment without parole, so the trial court held a sentencing hearing. The judge sentenced Turner to life without parole.

Turner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, challenging his sentence as unconstitutional based on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), and Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002), and alleging that he received ineffective trial and appellate assistance. The same lawyer represented him at both stages.

The post-conviction court denied relief; the Court of Appeals affirmed. It relied on Holmes v. State, 820 N.E.2d 136 (Ind. 2005), in which the Indiana Supreme Court held the verdict returned during the guilt phase sufficed to establish that “the jury found, beyond a reasonable doubt, aggravating circumstances” rendering Holmes eligible for the death penalty. Apprendi’s requirement that “any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt” was met by the nature of Holmes’ convictions, the high court held.

Here, the jury unanimously found Turner guilty of murder and attempted robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. The jury necessarily found the existence of one statutory aggravating circumstance alleged by the state, that Turner intentionally killed Coyle while committing or attempting to commit robbery, Judge Patricia Riley wrote in Duane Turner v. State of Indiana, 18A05-1112-PC-697.

The appellate judges found Turner’s attorney did not provide ineffective assistance at the trial level or appellate level, except for one issue on appeal. They found his attorney ineffective by not appealing his attempted robbery conviction on double jeopardy grounds. The judges remanded with instructions to reduce the conviction to a Class B felony.

 

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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